Negotiate status quo

Although India has taken in its stride the decision of the Trump administration to exclude it, along with Turkey, from the Generalized System of Preferences scheme, which resulted in zero tariffs on imports of about USD six billion worth from India, this should not go unchallenged.

Through negotiations the issue must be revisited so that the benefit of no-duty can be restored soon. The point is not the relatively small quantum of exports under GSP, but the principle behind it. Trump seeking parity with China on trade is one thing, especially when China short-circuits the US with hidden and not-so-hidden subsidies and duties.

India’s quantum of exports is minuscule compared to China’s and, besides, it neither steals the intellectual property of the US companies nor subsidies exports so blatantly. The GST benefit in duty concessions totalled about USD 200 billion. Given our sluggish exports overall, even this amount is not to be sniffed at.

Agreed, India has given Trump cause for offence by clamping down on the imports of medical items, such as stents and knee implants. This should have been done in a more amicable manner. Unless Trump is bent on riling every nation, India should be in a position to better its trade with the largest importer in the world in view of the on-going tussle over tariffs between the number one and two global economies — and the growing strategic understating between the world’s two largest democracies.

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